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English: skills for learning
English: skills for learning

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2.3 Typical challenges

Writing a university assignment can be difficult. The following activity identifies the main challenges.

Activity 4

Timing: Allow approximately 5 minutes

Below is a list of challenges typically experienced by students who are new to assignment writing. Think of your experience of writing longer and possibly formal texts. For example, you may have had to write a job application or a formal email. If you haven’t had such experiences, you may want to think back to your school experiences. Have you ever experienced any of the challenges listed below?

  • It’s a very long time since I’ve done anything like this. I’ve forgotten how to do it.
  • I’m not familiar with the British educational system. What is done in my country is quite different from what is expected here.
  • I’m not clever enough to write an assignment.
  • How do I organise essays and reports?
  • I don’t understand the assignment title. What am I expected to do?
  • I look at the blank page. I don’t know where to start or what to write.
  • I can write short informal pieces but I have never written a long formal essay.
  • I write too many words.
  • I make too many errors and don’t know how to choose the right words.

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The main problems students experience are caused by lack of experience and, in particular, difficulty in getting started. These difficulties arise when students have problems understanding the question and the way in which essays and reports should be organised. Some see assignment writing as daunting as it is a completely new experience.

The next section will address these challenges by focusing on the writing process.